Curing the holiday blues

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF. -- Wintertime and holidays are supposed to be a time for having fun, spending time with family and friends and enjoying the season. We hear songs about this being the most wonderful time of the year. But for some, this is the worst and saddest time of the year.

These 'blues' can be brought on by mental or physical health issues, including but not limited to: failed or strained relationships, job loss, binge drinking, overeating, unpleasant memories from the past, being unable to spend the holidays with family or friends.

The holiday blues are obvious to some people, but not to others. If people recognize they are feeling down, they tend to either focus on how bad they are feeling or put their focus on avoiding the bad feelings. Unfortunately, neither tactic will resolve the issues and could easily make things worse.

There are many factors that can cause these feelings of depression, stress, agitation, fatigue, and dread. In order to effectively resolve and overcome the holiday blues, you need to know what the holidays are about for you. This is an individual determination, because what is depressing or stressful for one person may not be for another person; what is right for one situation, may not be right for another. Take a walk, go to the movies, exercise; find something that works for you and stick with it!

The key is to recognize you may be experiencing the blues. Early recognition and talking to someone like a friend, your family or religious leaders is important. It is also important to work towards a happier holiday by choosing to have a sense of optimism. Say, "I want to be happy during this period of time."

Of course, we offer no guarantee you will feel great 100% of the time, but if you can set some goals and decide you are going to be happy, that positive attitude will help prevent some of the downward spiral that leads to depression. Try to work on an 'attitude of gratitude' by identifying something you are grateful for each day and writing it down on a piece of paper. Add to the list and refer to it often, especially when you are feeling down.

Take a closer look at the people around you. If you hear someone is mentioning suicide, giving away their possessions, or have varying mood changes, you might want to seek help for them. Please, do not be afraid to step in and help those around you. When all is said and done, if one of us does not do it, who will?

If you feel there is no one you can turn to or if you do not know how to help someone else, you can always call your or any first sergeant. They are trained to help in these situations.

I personally have always practiced the art of helping others, especially whenever I am feeling down or stressed. I find, by helping others and stepping away from our own worries, I am able to see that I may not have it as bad as I think. I have learned to see the effect that it has on others. It lifts their spirits and brightens their life while making me feel good for helping them.

There are many organizations that assist others on a yearly basis and especially during the holiday season. These organizations need our help as well and anyone can donate a child's toy to Toys for Tots or donate non-perishable food to the local food bank. There are several organizations right here on base that accept food and toys for holiday distribution. The March First Sergeants' Council also provides assistance for Airmen in need. Any and all donations to these organizations are greatly appreciated.

Remember to have a joyful and happy holiday season this year. And--as always - be safe!